EU calls for ‘single market’ of space

EU calls for ‘single market’ of space

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The European Commission is warning against fragmentation of regulations for space, calling for a ‘single market moment’ and an EU space law.

In a speech today at the 15th European Space Conference in Brussels, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market and champion of the European space strategy highlights the risk of fragmented regulation for space systems as the region accelerates investment.

“2023 will be a crucial year to deliver on our European space ambitions,” he said. But he points to the need for an ‘EU space law’ with common rules on safety, security and sustainability.

“Ten Member States have already started to regulate space operations,” he said. “We face the risk of diverging national rules with a negative impact on the competitiveness of our industry, as well as on our security. We need for instance, common rules on collision avoidance, safety and mitigation measures, threats assessment, resilience requirement and a zero-debris approach.”

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“This would be the “single-market moment” of space,” he said. “It will build a European level-playing-field based on EU standards. This is ambitious yes. But I am convinced that this is the only way to ensure that future generations will enjoy all benefits from access to space services.”

The 2023 push includes starting the procurement of a next generation broadband satellites for the IRIS² programme in the next month. This will provide a governmental backbone infrastructure designed to serve our public service, security and defence needs and a new range of commercial services.

“We are making sure that consortia involve stakeholders beyond the usual space ecosystem, including downstream sector players; and associate SMEs and start-ups from the NewSpace and Digital worlds,” he said.

He points to the CASSINI project which has already supported more than 100 space- start-ups and a European Space Stock Index launched today to attract additional private capital. Companies will also be able to access funding via the EIC, EIF and EIB alongside ESA and EUSPA. The IRIS² programme will also include European startup companies.

Military matters are also moving up the priority list, with an EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence to be proposed in March, largely as a result of the war in Ukraine.

This will look at a resilience and security framework for EU, national and commercial space systems as well as a strengthened capacity for the Union’s ability to respond to threats. He is also calling for an enhanced use of space for security and defence operations, for instance through new Earth Observation and Space Situational Awareness services and an intensified cooperation with global partners, notably NATO.

“Our space agenda for 2023 is very ambitious. I count on the European parliament, the Member States (both the Swedish and Spanish Presidency) as well as the whole European space community to mobilise so we can continue to build a true European space power,” he said.

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